Showing posts from September, 2012

Interesting Food - Margarine

According to research carried out at the University of California, margarine can make you aggressive.

(The study found that chemicals called 'trans fatty acids' (TFAs), which can be found in large quantities in margarine, but also in some fast foods - makes people aggressive and irritable.

Maybe they should reshoot that advert:  "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S NOT BUTTER!")

Interesting Fact - Sport

According to experts from the Technical University of Munich, Germany, squeezing a soft ball or making a fist with your left hand could help combat sporting nerves.

(Basically when we practice a particular movement thousands of times, it becomes automatic and requires little conscious thought, by shifting the balance of brain activity away from the left side, which governs conscious movement, and towards the right, which is key to automated behaviour, we can reduce the likelihood of choking under pressure and because each of our arms is connected to the opposite side of the brain, this can be done by clenching the left hand.
Now, two thoughts come to mind.  We should test this theory the next time England needs to take a penalty, and I wonder if clenching the right hand can reduce exam nerves.)

Interesting Fact - Drugs

According to the US Office of National Drug Control Policy, in 2010 The U.S. federal government spent over $15 billion dollars on the War on Drugs.

(That is a cost of about $500 per second, but that's just the federal government, state and local governments spent at least another 25 billion dollars.

America is still the single largest marketplace for illegal drugs. One estimate is that around thirteen million Americans still occasionally buy illegal drugs, whist an estimated 5 and 6 million have more serious drug habits. The government estimates that users spend approximately $60 billion dollars a year.)

You can follow an up-to-date calculator online.

Interesting Invention - The typewriter

The first recorded idea for a typewriter is dated 1714 when an Englishman called Henry Mill patented his idea for "an artificial machine or method for the impressing or transcribing of letters singly or progressively one after another."
(But, it wasn't until 1808 that Italian Pellegrino Turri built the first working machine of its kind. Turri made the typewriter for his friend Countess Carolina Fantoni da Fivizzano, but the first commercial production wasn't until 1873.)

Interesting Fact - Babies

In England and Wales, every week, two babies are born in prison.

(Quite often the child is taken from them at birth to be placed into care, but there are mother and baby units in 8 of Britain's 13 women's jails, so it is now possible for about 80 of those children to be with their mothers – but still behind bars. Not the best start in life.)

Interesting Place - England

England has the highest rate of female imprisonment in the European Union. 

(According to statistics published by the Ministry of Justice, the number of women jailed in England has more than doubled over the past two decades to 4,144, but many sentences are short, and in 2011 10,181 women were actually put behind bars.)

Interesting Fact - Genetics

Researchers from the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam ave identified genetic factors that contribute to facial appearance.

(The scientists have managed to identify 9 points, including the position of the cheekbones, the distance between the eyes, and the height, width and length of the nose. This could mean that the good old photo-fit might be a thing of the past, as it may be possible in the future to produce portraits of suspects from a scrap of their DNA.)

Interesting Fact - Genetics

The vast majority of the human genome plays a vital function by regulating the genes that build and maintain the body.

(This debunks the myth of "junk" DNA, a term coined 40 years ago to describe the part of the genome that does not contain any genes, but it is in fact an elaborate patchwork of regulatory sequences that act as a huge operating system for controlling the genome. So, be careful of calling stuff you don't fully understand "junk".)
The research was carried out by hundreds of researchers from 32 institutes around the world and the findings published in a series of 30 research papers in Nature, Science and other scientific journals.

Interesting People - Art Garfunkel

Art Garfunkel is a long distance walker.

(Seemingly the famous singer of Simon and Garfunkel fame has undertaken several long walks in his lifetime: In the early 1980s, he walked across Japan in a matter of weeks. From 1984 to 1996, Garfunkel walked across America, taking 40 excursions to complete the route from New York City to the Pacific coast of Washington.

In May 1998, Garfunkel began an incremented walk across Europe.

In late August 2012, during the 26th leg of his Eurowalk, Art reached Thessaloniki, Greece.

He will be continuing his walk towards Istanbul.)

Interesting Fact - Mobile Phones

According to, mobile phone bills in the UK are, on average, £439 a year.
(The largest monthly bill in 2011 was £1,700! I wonder what kind of phone numbers they were calling.)

Interesting Fact - Mobile Phones

According to website, in the UK there are a total of 8,134,979 different contract permutations on offer to mobile phone customers.
(It is crazy - the jargon, the small print etc. Can there be such a thing as too much choice?)

Interesting People - Joanna Woodward

In 1960, Joanna Woodward was the first star to be honoured on the historic Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

(When it was first constructed there were 1,558 blank stars, but new stars were added and Sophia Loren was honoured with the 2,000th star in 1994. As far as I know there is still room for a few new stars, so there's time for my acting career to take off.)

Interesting Fact - Driving

To pass your driving test in the UK, you must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.

(In addition, you must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.  But as I mentioned earlier, you don't have to have a regular eye test, which accounts for all the old codgers, driving at 10mph craning over the steering wheel.)

Interesting Fact - Driving

There is no law in the UK that says drivers have to have their eyes tested.

Interesting Fact - Birth and Death

According to research led by the University of Zurich's Dr Vladeta Ajdacic-Gross, you are 14% more likely to die on your birthday than on any other day of the year.

(The research analysed data from 2.5 million deaths in Switzerland between 1969 and 2008, and it doesn't seem to matter what age you are, or what sex. The researchers put it nicely, "birthdays… appear to end up in a lethal way more frequently than expected."

Chillingly Professor David Spiegelhalter, a statistician from Cambridge University, says " It's purely a birthday effect."

So, if it's your birthday today... Be careful out there.)

Interesting Fact - Driving

According to research carried out by road safety charity Brake, 1 in 3 visually-impaired drivers make two journeys each week without their glasses or contact lenses.

(The excuses given include:-

'I forgot to put glasses on/contacts in''I was only planning to drive a short distance''It was too sunny so I swapped my glasses for sunglasses''My eyes felt dry/tired so I took my lenses out''I have broken my glasses and can't afford to replace them' UK law states that, if you need to wear glasses or contact lenses to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’ you must wear them every time you drive.)

Interesting Fact - Health

According to research from road safety charity Brake, one in five Brits have not had an eye test in the past two years.

Interesting Word - Philematology

Philematology is the art or science of kissing.

(Kissing is the act of pressing one's lips against the lips or other body parts of another person or of an object. From a peck on the cheek to a full blown French kiss, it's all kissing.)

Interesting Fact - Books

A study by the National Literacy Trust found that, in the UK, children as young as seven are more likely to own a mobile phone than a book.

(I would like to think that maybe they have an e-reader installed on the phone, but who am I kidding?)

Interesting Fact - Transport

According to online insurance company, residents of towns and villages in Scotland have the highest percentage of personalised number plates.
(14% of motorists in the villages of Killearn, Strathblane and Fintry in Stirlingshire, have a personalised plate, compared with a national average of around 4%. I guess we all strive for recognition.)

Interesting Fact - Energy

There are over 26 energy companies in the UK.

(According to Which, the average saving when switching gas and electricity is £217, but there are over 400 tariffs to choose from.)

The energy companies I could find are:-

AirtricityAtlanticBritish GasCo-operative EnergyEbicoEcotricityEDFEonFirst UtilityGood EnergyGreen Energy UKiSupply EnergyLoCO2M&S EnergyNpowerOvo EnergyPower NISainsbury's EnergyScottish HydroScottish PowerSouthern ElectricSpark EnergySSESwalecUtilitaUtility Warehouse